This article has been updated and cost estimates have been removed because they were incorrect.
SIMONTON (Covering Katy News) – The federal government is redrawing the flood plain maps in Texas, which means many people who don’t need flood insurance now will have to buy it in the future, and the premiums will be high.
“People who are not currently in the flood plain would suddenly find themselves paying for flood insurance for $700 to $4,000 per year,” said Fort Bend County Precinct 3 Commissioner Andy Meyers.
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Meyers is constantly zipping from one side of his north Fort Bend County district to another with the speed of a millennial. When he’s not in Precinct 3 he’s probably at the Statehouse in Austin lobbying legislators to scale-back Houston’s ability to tax shoppers in the Katy/Fulshear/Richmond area and spend the money in Houston. On Saturday he’ll be in Simonton explaining his plan to head off a massive fiscal shock for homeowners that is on the way in the wake of Hurricane Harvey’s flooding.
Many homeowners along Bessie’s Creek in the Simonton area will be affected by the changes that are coming. NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, is redefining what’s known as the 100-year flood plain, which is a standard used to calculate flood insurance premiums and who must buy coverage.
Meyers wants to help homeowners who live along Bessie’s Creek by creating a 250-acre, 12-foot-deep flood detention pond to hold floodwaters during prolonged heavy rain. He’s currently in negotiations to acquire the land, hopefully at a greatly reduced price, from a developer that would benefit from having the project completed.
A flood mitigation project would protect people’s homes and prevent many property owners along Bessie’s Creek from having to buy flood insurance under the new flood plain standards that are coming.
“NOAA would have to factor the flood mitigation project into their calculations,” Meyers said. “They would be required to take into consideration that you have a big detention that will hold a lot of water.”
Meyers hopes the coast will be paid for through a combination of state money and a match from the federal government.
“We have made an application to the federal government for a 75/25 grant for a flood mitigation project for Bessie’s Creek,” Meyers said. If the grant is won the federal government will pay 75 percent. Meyers will have to figure out how to fund the remaining 25 percent.
“What we are trying to do is get the state to fund the local match of 25 percent,” he said. “We’re trying to utilize some part of the rainy day fund to make certain we mitigate future flooding.”
If the state does not provide full funding there will likely have to be a county-wide bond vote, and Meyers says it would likely fail at the ballot box because people who don’t live along Bessie’s Creek are not likely to want to pay to prevent flooding on property they don’t own.
“Most people would not see any benefit because they don’t live near Bessie’s Creek,” Meyers said.
“As a fallback position, we would create a special district. It would essentially be a drainage or flood control district,” Meyers said.
That would require a tax to fund it.
Meyers will host a public meeting on Saturday to provide more details and answer questions as he attempts to convince residents that it’s in their best interest to support the plan.
The meeting will be held at Simonton Community Church, at 9703 FM 1489, in Simonton. The meeting begins at 10 a.m.